Pest control is paramount to food safety. Rodents can spread foodborne diseases via their fur, feet, droppings, urine, and saliva. Insects, such as cockroaches, will also contaminate fresh food as they scavenge around at night for their meals, transmitting bacteria that can cause food poisoning. As such, no matter whether you’re responsible for a restaurant, takeaway, pub, café or sandwich bar, pest control is a matter of public health and safety.
What’s more, considering the damage to property, stock and reputation pests can cause, rats, mice, and insects are just as much a business risk as they are a health risk.
Pests and Food Safety Regulations
Food service businesses are governed by legislation to ensure that their food handling and preparation processes are safe. At any point, environmental health authorities can pay a visit to a business premises to check for compliance with legal requirements.
Although there is often room for improvement, large food service retailers generally have effective pest control systems in place – not least because they usually have the resources to do so. However, by necessity, smaller businesses tend to operate on much tighter budgets with fewer staff, meaning they can often let pest control provisions fall by the wayside. They do so at their peril. Pest control for SMEs is just as important as it is for large enterprises. Expectations and food safety requirements are exactly the same for businesses with a single location as they are for huge, nationwide chains.
All businesses operating in the catering sector are required to deploy pest management programmes that prevent the introduction of pests on a food site. In addition, they must also take appropriate action to reduce the conditions that may encourage infestations or facilitate the survival of pest species should they establish a presence.
Legislation that affects food services businesses in the UK include the Food Standards Act 1999, the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations and the EU’s Regulation No. 852/2004 On the Hygiene of Foodstuffs. All make it clear that food is unsafe if it is considered to be injurious to health or unfit for human consumption. The regulations also lay down general hygiene requirements for food service operators. These include ensuring protection against contamination and, in particular, adequate pest control.
Most Common Pests that Threaten the Catering Industry
The sum of all the legislation is that businesses of all sizes are required by law, to actively prevent pest infestation. This means pest control for SMEs in the catering industry is crucial. The potential consequences of failing to maintain robust pest control management can be ruinous for small businesses running on tight margins.
Public health and regulatory authorities have the power to close down premises temporarily, or even permanently, if pests are discovered to be present or food safety requirements are not being met. The business will then face fines and be forced to pick up the court and other legal costs associated with the case. In addition, such events will not escape the notice of the local press, meaning damage to reputation and customer trust will ensue. The business will likely incur further financial losses in terms of lost productivity, as well as when replacing any damaged or contaminated products. Staff morale will suffer and there will be lost sales and profits due to the loss of customers.
Let’s consider the most common pests that affect the catering industry as well the threats and challenges they cause.
Rats and Mice
Rodents can gain entry into a food service building via vents, pipes, drains, doorways, windows, vents and cracks. They are notorious for their ability to squeeze through tiny gaps. They are also expert climbers, meaning that even gaps that are high up on the building can be exploited.
They are attracted to food supplies, which food service outlets naturally have in abundance. Aside from fresh food stores, one particular challenge comes from food waste. Refuse areas filled with rubbish bags of half-eaten meals and ingredients past their use-by-date provide an excellent source of food for rats and mice. If refuse is not locked away and the surrounding area not kept spotlessly clean, these rodents will soon take up residence. If this happens, it won’t be long before they find their way inside the building where their numbers will quickly multiply, meaning pest control for SMEs that operate a food service location with high food waste is crucial.
From a public health perspective, the presence of rats and mice present huge dangers. They are known to be carriers of more than thirty different diseases which pose a threat to humans. These include hantavirus, Weil’s disease, and salmonella. In addition, rodents will also cause damage to buildings, fixtures, sewer systems and machinery, as well as food containers and packaging. Anything that rodents damage or contaminate will either have to be repaired or replaced, incurring potentially huge costs for the business.
The four most common species of cockroach found in the UK are the German cockroach, the oriental cockroach, the American cockroach, and the brown banded cockroach. They each have their own distinct features, though all breed rapidly and can survive in almost any environment, meaning infestations can quickly spiral out of control.
Pest control for SMEs in the catering sector must include adequate safeguards against cockroach infestations due to the disease-causing bacteria the insects carry. These include salmonella and E. coli, as well as various types of fungi, viruses and parasitic worms.
Of particular concern to businesses in the catering industry is the insects’ feeding habits. Cockroaches will feed on all types of organic matter, including animal carcasses, mould, decaying matter, faecal matter in sewers and bird and rodent droppings. They also feed on fresh food, which will become contaminated with any bacteria they pick up on their travels.
A cockroach infestation can be difficult to spot. They are primarily nocturnal creatures, sheltering during the day in cracks and crevices in walls, floors, drains, sewers and inside equipment and machinery. These places are hard to reach and investigate when following usual cleaning routines. This means their presence can often go undetected until a large infestation is established, resulting in an expensive pest control problem for the business to deal with.
Pest Control for SMEs from Baroque Pest Services
Pest control for SMEs in the food service industry is of paramount importance. In order to ensure compliance with food safety legislation and avoid the potentially business-ruining expenses of an infestation, it is imperative that you partner with a professional pest control company.
At Baroque Pest Services, we have over 30 years’ experience designing and implementing bespoke pest control solutions for businesses in the catering sector. We cover Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton, Torquay, Truro and many other areas in the South West and serve all kinds of industries including: Bars, Pubs, Cafés, Restaurants, Hotels, and B&Bs, as well as Nursing Homes, Factories, Warehouses, and Organic Farms.
Our pest control for SMEs service begins with a free survey and risk assessment. We will then tailor a pest control contract that suits your business’s precise needs. Contact us today for a free quotation.
Baroque (SW) Limited was a family business established in October 1988 based in Plymouth. Over 30 years Baroque grew to become the most well-known regional pest control company in the South West of England before joining forces with Safeguard Pest Control in August 2018. As part of the Safeguard family, customers continue to receive exceptional pest control, bird control and washroom services. Every customer is important to us and we take pride in providing a top quality, reliable service. Our emphasis is on serving the customer to the best of our ability and building a long-term relationship of mutual trust and friendship. We have service technicians local to all areas of the South West Counties, so our customers can receive a prompt service from a technician who is familiar with the area and premises. Our experienced office staff are available from 8.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday to answer any customer queries and give advice.